Folly of the Wise – I


Capacity to think is an exclusive characteristic of man. This forms the basis of his ability to deliberate, imagine, analyse and take decisions. The ability of other living organisms to think is confined to food, survival and procreation. They cannot think beyond this on topics like better lifestyles, world order or the future of civilizations etc. Off and on some of them can be seen vying for a larger share and attacking each other on account of conflicts but that is about all. They somehow expend their lives and die in due course.

Man has been endowed with the capacity to think. He is capable of learning from his past experiences, making effort to meet his current needs and making the future more comfortable and pleasant. He attempts to follow traditions and rules that govern ethics, religion and society. Cooperation is his other special characteristic, on basis of which, he works for mutual benefit and does what is needed for development and enhancement of comforts and happiness. It is these mental characteristics that have in course of time lead him to his distinct abilities like desire, determination, courage, initiative etc. and elevated him to the highest pedestal in evolution ladder.

However, there is also an associated inadequacy in human beings. Man tends to emulate what he observes around him. He embraces the beliefs and actions of others in his vicinity. This tendency engulfs him to such an extent that he often loses his ability to discriminate between right and wrong. Imitation becomes a practice and this tendency overcomes all others. It soon becomes a habit and the urge to imitate becomes his second nature. Many a times this makes him so intransigent that he loses his inclination to see different points of view and, simply based on prejudices, tends to oppose them. These prejudices and failure to understand the other point of view leads to disputes. Wastage of human effort, labour and resources on such disputes and oppositions can be contained if discretion is practised instead of blind imitation.

Man has made numerous discoveries and inventions. He has drawn many intelligent conclusions and taken far-reaching decisions in various areas. But, all this progress has failed to check the growth of misconceptions. Man continues to base his conduct on convictions that are of hypocrisy or dubious veracity. So often, the wise man shows irrationality in his conduct.

Misconceptions of the Intelligent Mind

If we analyse and classify human habits and beliefs, we find that man is more superstitious than he is discerning. He is wise and yet, more unwise. From certain perspectives, other creatures are better placed, as unlike man, they do not engage in the mess of right versus wrong and live their lives in harmony with nature.

There are so many prevalent misconceptions that one can hardly categorize man to be a rational being. It is difficult to believe at times how well-read people and those running large businesses can ever be so irrational. It is necessary to pick a few topics and deliberate whether the prevalent beliefs and practices are indeed correct.

When people think about themselves, their prime concern is their body. They associate their self-identity with the body. They continuously strive to assimilate more comforts for the body and make it strong, charming and gorgeous in all respects. But, this belief in supremacy of the body is misplaced. For if this was indeed true, why is it that nothing remains of the body after death? In spite of all preventive measures why does illness and old age take its toll on the body? How do some people retain memories of an earlier birth? Why some people are gifted with special talents right form the birth? Why even co-genital twins, brought up in the same ambience by same parents, have altogether opposite natures and personalities?

Answers to all these questions lie in the fact that body and soul are two distinct entities. Both mingle along well and it is also seen that upon separation the existence of both gets concealed from normal perception. That body and soul are separate entities, is an absolute fact. Unfortunately, most people either do not accept it or are unmindful of this distinction. Otherwise, they would not have been wasting all their time in pursuit of pleasures linked with the body. Attention would have also been paid to the responsibilities associated with development of the soul. Such lifestyles would have been adopted that would have liberated not only self but also others. Driven by sensual passions and false pride, man has instead been treading the road to decadence.

Had there been the realization that youth is the time for striving to rise to higher planes, why would anyone have spent those days in wasteful pursuits? Why wouldn’t he have rather utilized those days better and lived an ideal life? Why wouldn’t his life have been a model for others to follow? The confused perceptions about associating self with the body and not the soul, is what leads to the situation where hardly anyone lives a life that can stand the test of ideals. It is usually too late by the time one clears this perception and realizes that the life, which he had been living was misled or was a shear wastage of a rare, precious opportunity.

Courtesy: “Samajhadaron Ki Nasarnajhi” by Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya and Dr. Pranav Pandya

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